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Jazz Dance World Congress

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These days jazz dance encompasses much more than the pelvic thrusts and come-hither looks Bob Fosse pioneered. From the kitschy, smooth-as-pistons partnering of sequined ballroom-champ locals Gregory Day and Tommye Giacchino to the retro classicism of Chicago's Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, the vision of jazz choreography has expanded to include many tenuously related forms of popular dance. Next week the Jazz Dance World Congress, sponsored by Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and the city, returns to the area for the first time since 1994, featuring 17 companies or duos performing a wide variety of work. One of the most accomplished and farthest afield from musical-theater jazz dance is Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, whose pieces on video use creative choreography, impressive lighting, and a variety of music--cool jazz, classical string, New Agey scat singing--to create different moods and explore ideas. At the other end of the spectrum are two companies run by choreographers best known for their music videos: Mia Michaels of Mia Michaels R.A.W. in New York has choreographed for Madonna, while Liz Imperio of Instincts Live Media Dance Company in LA has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan. Then there are two companies from outside North America--Masashi Action Machine from Japan, which I remember from previous years as machinelike indeed, and Ballets Jazz Rick Odums from France, which I remember as hypersexual--plus several companies from Chicago. See listing for the lineups, which vary night by night. Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo, 866-468-3401 or 847-475-1532. July 31-August 3: Wednesday-Saturday, 8 PM. $35; $120 for all four performances. Then at the Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, 312-559-1212. Sunday, August 4, 3 PM. $20-$30; kids under 12, $10-$15. Note: Matinee performances by the finalists in the Leo's Jazz Dance Choreography Competitive Event will be open to the public July 31-August 3 at 1 PM at the Merle Reskin Theatre. Tickets are $15 and available at the box office only.

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